Vacation for Christmas: Best Places To Spend Christmas in USA
Christmas: Whether you’re seeking a classic Christmas vacation filled with holiday traditions or a festive yuletide getaway without snow, you’ll find it in these vacation destinations. To determine which cities offer the best settings for a Christmas getaway, U.S. News considered factors like culture, seasonality and entertainment options, as well as reader votes. Have a favorite Christmastime locale
The first snowfall of the year urges us to throw on our cold weather gear and head outside to catch snowflakes on our tongue, lay on our backs and make snow angels, and grab the sled from the garage all topped off with a warm hot cup of cocoa.
The following destinations are sure to put you in the holiday spirit, and are our top picks for the best U.S. cities to visit during Christmas time. Filled with sounds of carols in the air, aromas of roasting chestnuts, and what seem to be millions of lights suspended on the breeze, these top yuletide destinations will leave you jingling all the way.
The Best Places To Spend Christmas in USA
1. Leavenworth, Washington
Our top pick for the best U.S. city to visit during Christmas time is, without deliberation, Leavenworth, Washington. This quaint Bavarian town is idyllically situated in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, just two hours east of Seattle.
Come Dec. 1, this snowy mountain village transforms into the winter wonderland of your childhood dreams and lasts throughout the entire month. More than 500,000 lights deck the streets, with town festivities including caroling, Santa visits to the town gazebo, roasted chestnut vendors, boutique holiday shopping, sledding, sleigh rides, and more.
Why not escape to a literal winter wonderland for Christmas? Park City is a breathtaking place nestled in the mountains. There are tons of Christmas events throughout December such as holiday markets and a ride on the North Pole Express. The celebrations culminate in a Christmas Eve torchlight parade, where skiers and snowboarders come down the mountain carrying torches to lead Santa into town.
3. Cleveland, Ohio
You might recognize this home from the beloved Christmas movie A Christmas Story. Ralphie’s iconic house has been restored as a museum, and now you can go inside (and even stay the night). Last December, the museum hosted a 5K/10K run! And yes, leg lamps are available for purchase (but remember, they’re very fragile!).
4.ALASKA NORTH POLE
You Can’t Afford To Miss: North Pole Sign, Christmas in Ice Contest, Winter Festival
What to Eat: Little Richard’s Family Diner, Pagoda Restaurant, North Pole Crepery
Where to Stay: Hotel North Pole (mid-range), A Taste of Alaska Lodge Fairbanks (mid-range), 9th Ave Hostel Fairbanks (budget)
Did you know you can spend Christmas at the North Pole without leaving the United States? Thousands of letters are sent to the Santa Claus House every year, and he even writes back. You may even be able to catch the Aurora Borealis!
5. Nevada City, California
Whiffs of chestnut roasting on an open fire ride on the crisp air of this picturesque Gold Rush town during the holiday season at Nevada City Victorian Christmas. Vendors line the streets offering an abundance of Christmas treasures like hand-crafted candy, jewelry, perfume, dolls, and pottery.
This magical Christmas card setting thrives with wandering carollers dressed in Victorian attire, carriage rides, live entertainment, and delectable treats.
6. Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Another Midwestern town with a Christmas market resembling that of the Christkindlmarket in Nuremberg, Germany, Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin is home to the famed Old World Christmas Market. Visitors can hop on for a horse-drawn wagon ride, have breakfast with Santa, or indulge in some traditional German schnitzel and mulled wine.
Travelers can spread the holiday cheer at nearby Greenbush’s Wade House Historic Site. In December, Wade House hosts An Old World Christmas, a mid-19th century-style Christmas celebration filled with live holiday music, horse-drawn rides bedecked with jingle bells, and photo ops with a Victorian Santa Claus.
7. Washington, D.C.
Running from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, 2019, from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. nightly, Georgetown GLOW DC is the region’s only curated exhibition of outdoor public light installations, making D.C.’s oldest neighborhood come to life during the holiday season.
State-of-the-art light installations are designed by local and international artists, inviting viewers to interact, connect, and play with the artwork. A concoction of chromatic rings and interactive landscapes are sprinkled throughout the neighborhood, making for a truly magical holiday experience.
8. ORLANDO, FLORIDA
Enjoy the mild winters in Orlando and visit one of the most magical places on earth! It’s no wonder that it also makes it one of the best places to spend Christmas in the US. Disney World gives their parks an extra dose of cheer during the holidays, and it doesn’t hurt that you can visit the beach in just a couple of hours.
What to Eat: Cork & Fork, Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa, Seito Sushi
Where to Stay: Four Seasons at Disney (luxury), Floridays Resort (mid-range), Orlando International Resort Club (mid-range)
9.Big Spring, TX
What’s better than an all-American Christmas right in the heart of West Texas? This charming town is big on holiday spirit. In fact, it’s been dubbed the “Lighted Poinsettia Capital of Texas.” At the town’s historic Hotel Settles, you can expect to find a beautifully decorated grand lobby lounge complete with traditional décor. There’s even a massive Christmas tree with presents underneath.
10. Denton, NC
All aboard! The Denton Farmpark’s Country Christmas Train in Denton, North Carolina is well worth the trip—both for you and any little ones you’re bringing along. You’ll stop by Santa’s cabin, travel through a real-life “gingerbread house,” and even sing carols at a church. With a population under 3,000, Denton is a fabulous, homey place to spend Christmas this year.
11. McAdenville, North Carolina
Located just 20 minutes outside of Charlotte, the tiny town of McAdenville becomes so invested in its holiday spirit and traditions that, each year, it changes its name to Christmas Town USA come December.
More than 600,000 people flock to Christmas Town USA annually to gaze upon the town’s 265 evergreens covered with more than 500,000 holiday lights, approximately 160 beautifully decorated homes and a large lake in the center surrounded by 38 lighted spruce trees.
12. Ogden, Utah
If you’re considering Ogden for a winter holiday getaway, make sure to be there during the Electric Light Parade celebration, the town’s opening ceremony to kick-off the holiday season for Ogden’s Christmas Village. Since its beginning in 1962, Ogden’s Christmas Village has been a prized tradition for the people of this mountainous Utah city.
Landing on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the parade is filled with elaborate floats, world-class performers, and sensational holiday themes. Santa appears in the final float of the ceremony, flipping a magical switch and illuminating all of Christmas Village once reaching Municipal Gardens. The opening ceremony closes with a spectacular fireworks display.
13. Branson, Missouri
Lake of the Ozarks is primarily known for being a renowned summertime destination with boundless outdoor activity opportunities, but it may come as a surprise to discover that Branson — a prominent Ozark town — is home to a flourishing Christmas celebration during the holiday season: Ozark Mountain Christmas.
Deemed America’s Christmas Tree City and Live Music Show Capital of the World, Branson’s Ozark Mountain Christmas features top-notch live shows and performances, the largest Christmas light display in the area at Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas and Branson Scenic Railway’s Polar Express Train Ride.